In Saudi Arabia, it is a capital offence for a Muslim to leave their Islamic religion. No Saudi Christian convert from Islam is known to have been executed in recent times, but some have been murdered by their
families. An unknown number of indigenous believers must follow Christ in total secrecy.
Christian migrant workers often face abuse from their employers in Saudi Arabia. No public indication of any non-Islamic religion is allowed, but expatriate Christians are, theoretically, allowed to gather privately to worship, but can experience harassment from religious police who raid meetings. In 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to tourists, but Christian visitors face arrest if they display their Bible in public.
Islam began in Saudi Arabia and its most holy sites, Mecca and Medina, are there. The kingdom’s constitution is the Quran and Muhammad’s words and deeds. The judicial system operates under a strict sharia interpretation. However, Saudi Arabia’s top court announced in 2020 that flogging will cease to be a form of criminal punishment. This was immensely significant as Islam teaches that Allah laid down the penalty of flogging for drinking alcohol and adultery.
Blasphemy carries a potential death penalty, and charges of blasphemy suppress free speech and debate, including on social media. Terrorism is defined in law as “calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.” In 2020 Saudi Arabia’s call to the UN to define “Islamophobia” as a type of racism raised an alarm for global religious freedom.
Saudi Arabia propagates its strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam worldwide and has provided massive financial support to Islamist groups in other nations. Various networks funnel its oil money into dawa (Islamic mission) projects across the world.
Pray for the protection of all Christians. Give thanks for some small moves towards a more lenient interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia and pray that this will be expanded to allow Muslims to choose to follow another religion if they want, without penalty.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet